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Help Me Help You: 4 Tools Agency Principals Can Use to Empower Employees

Posted on June 28, 2016 by Guy Weismantel

Digital Insurer blog header

Has your agency spent money on tech upgrades and new software in the past few years? If so, good for you!

That investment shows you care about the future of your business and your employees. Maybe you've seen some improvements in profitability and productivity; but you may not be experiencing the widespread, beneficial change for which you hoped.  Perhaps, in your hurry to complete the upgrade, you failed to adequately train your employees how to get the most out of the new computers or their new software. Don't panic, this is actually a pretty typical part of the process anytime you roll out a large change in an organization.

Training is a vital part of any business, but it's especially important during times of change. If you're trying to improve your company culture and introduce upgraded technology, you'll need to provide ample training opportunities to help your employees feel confident and excited, regarding the new tech and the improved ways to connect with customers. Whatever process you do come up with, and you will need a process (think about situations like new employee on-boarding), new technology makes it easier for employees to enjoy training on their own time and at their own pace. Below are just a few options available to help alleviate the pains of change while simultaneously promoting a company culture of self-learning.

Just remember: The pain of same is greater than the pain of change. 

So if you haven't updated your software in the last 10 years, it might be time to consider a new solution! 

Employee Training

MOOCs

Maybe you don't have much money to invest in new training systems and technology right now. While you're working to create a better training budget, you can use some free options to improve the connection between employee training and technology.

Have you ever heard of a MOOC? It stands for Massive Open Online Course. Essentially, it's free training for your employees. There's no limit to the attendance numbers for these online classes, and you can find courses about virtually any topic. Big names in education, such as Duke University, jumped on the MOOC bandwagon a few years ago and continue to promote innovation in education via online courses. At Duke University alone, 30 teachers from 28 different departments have designed dozens of MOOCs since 2012. A stunning 2.8 million people have enrolled in those courses.

Hundreds of universities offer MOOCs for free or for a small fee. Get your insurance employees excited about technology by showing them how to access free content online!

Video Training

Sometimes it helps to see a person speaking rather than simply viewing a PowerPoint-style course with bullet points and a few images. For those in your agency who learn best visually and interactively, try video training. Watching a training video or two is one way to keep everyone up-to-date and informed about the implementation of new technologies in the business. 

One tool that leaders or other trainers in your agency should have installed on their computer is Screencast-O-Matic. It's a free tool (or $15/year for premium features) that allows your team leaders to record quick screenshot training videos to help empower your agents. It is especially well suited for small "how-to" type videos. For example, if a manager notices that his team has poorly formatted email signature lines he could record a five minute screenshot video training his agents on how to build an attractive signature line.

Outside parties are often a good source for additional video training. Ask your vendors, consultants, or local industry groups if they offer video training classes for their products. If you're paying these firms for products, services or membership then they'll likely respond well to your request for video training. 

Cloud-Based Training Systems

Why not try a cloud-based training system? You won't have to keep a lot of content locally on your network, since it's all stored in the cloud; plus, everyone with the login information will be able to access that valuable content easily, at a time that is convenient for him or her. Some of the cloud-based training systems employ analytics to determine what kind of content might suit a user. The system then suggests those courses or classes to that user, helping him locate relevant material quickly and easily.

World Travel Holdings, a multi-national firm that manages thousands of travel agents, created their own training university on the Litmos cloud-based training system. Their more traditional training efforts were unwieldy and saw poor course completion rates. With a cloud-based system they were able to launch 1,000 new courses and more than double user adoption.

Digital Learning Tools

What about creating some of your own training courses, designed specifically for your insurance agency and its unique place in the market? With a service such as LearnDash, you can craft interesting training sessions that relate to different aspects of your business. For example, why not tag your best sales agent and work with him to develop a course about building customer relationships? You can publish the courses through LearnDash or a similar service and use them for all your employees. If you're not training your employees you're missing out on a great employee motivator: 76% of employees desire training opportunities and rate that as a top three non-financial motivator.

Don't forget about helpful content available through government websites like the National Association of Health Underwriters (NAHU) about important topics such as HIPAA. Do you need to train your employees about the National Flood Insurance Program? There is free training information available for that, as well.

The Re-Learning Cycle

As human beings, our minds are rather malleable. That can be a good thing, allowing us to adapt to change; but it also means that we forget things easily. Training is an ongoing process within your insurance agency, and you'll probably have to cover the same material again every few years or so. Instead of treating it like an unpleasant chore, try to make training an enjoyable experience for your employees. Why not have snacks and drinks available during a group training session? If individuals are training on their own, offer incentives when specific levels of training are accomplished. Praise your employees when they gain new skills or fresh expertise with the technology they use every day. When you make your company culture one of excitement, growth, and learning, you'll find that positive change spreads through your agency right out to the marketplace, where your customers live.

Training your agents with new technology is one important element of increasing employee satisfaction and successfully managing your company. For additional tips and ideas download the e-book Managing Your Agency in the Digital Era.

Interested in learning more about Vertafore's on-going education for our customers? I've got you covered: http://www.vertafore.com/Services/Implementations


Mr. Weismantel is the Vice President of Marketing at Vertafore. With 20 years of marketing and financial leadership in companies such as Microsoft, Business Objects, Baxter HealthCare, Caremark International, and Expedia, Guy’s career has focused on bringing differentiated products to market and providing the “compelling reason to purchase” for customers and prospects alike.


Guy has a Bachelors Degree in Accounting from the University of Notre Dame, and a Masters Degree in Business Administration from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

 

 
 

 

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